House Passes TSCA Reform Legislation; Senate Vote on Hold

On May 24, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform legislation. TSCA – the nation’s primary chemical safety evaluation law – has not been substantively updated since its passage in 1976. For decades, many have called for modernized TSCA legislation in order to ensure consistent national standards and to reflect developments in science and technology.

In 2015, the House and the Senate passed separate TSCA reform bills. The long-awaited Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, named after the late New Jersey senator who championed chemical regulation reform, is a compromise between the House and Senate bills.

This week, the House approved the bipartisan bill by a vote of 403-12. The final results included 232 Republicans and 171 Democrats in favor of the bill. Only three Republicans and nine Democrats voted against the bill.

Although the Senate is expected to pass the bill, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blocked a unanimous consent request to vote on the bill on May 26. Paul stated that insufficient time had been given to review the legislation.

When passed by the Senate, President Obama is expected to sign the bill. The White House released a statement expressing the Administration’s strong support of the legislation. According to the statement, although the bill is not perfect, it satisfies the Obama Administration’s goals for “meaningful reform.”

The sweeping legislation amends the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate chemical substances. Key features of the bill include a detailed discussion of preemption, and the establishment of a risk-based screening process. The bill also includes updates regarding the TSCA safety standard and confidential business information.